The astrology of the Norway attacks: Saturn's pivotal role

(Posted July 30, 2011)  On Friday July 22, 2011, Norway was the victim of a home-grown terrorist attack at the hands of a single right-wing extremist.   Intent on fomenting a religious war with Islam, Anders Behring Breivik exploded a bomb in downtown Oslo that killed 8 people and then went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp in nearby Utoya that killed another 69.  It was the deadliest attack by a single gunman in recorded history.  News of the attack and its religious motivation has shocked the normally peaceful and tolerant country.

The transits at the time of the attack illustrate a tell-tale conjunction of Mars with Ketu (South Lunar Node) which often produces sudden eruptions of violence and conflict.   Both Mars and Ketu are malefics and their combination is usually quite volatile and often brings disturbing results.  We can see the key transits at the time of the initial bomb blast at 15:25 also included the Moon which joined this alignment and was in close aspect with Rahu (North Lunar Node). The presence of the Moon ratchets up the intensity of this pattern, although it does not help us locate just where its effects will manifest. 

The independence chart for Norway (June 7 1905 11.00 a.m.) reveals serious afflictions that could represent this event in terms of its shocking nature and level of suffering and disruption experienced by the general population.  As we can see, that Mars-Ketu conjunction was exactly conjunct natal Pluto.  Pluto is all about power and coercion so it's fairly easy to see how the sudden violence of Mars and Ketu would mix with the coercive nature of Pluto.  According to his manifesto, Breivik's attack was attempting to start a religious war against Muslims in order to re-Christianize Europe. He considered his acts of violence to be necessary (coercive) measures that would alert like-minded individuals to take up arms. 

But the true extent of this tragedy is better seen through the situation of Saturn in the chart.  According the Vimshottari dasha system, Norway was running its Saturn dasha.  In fact, it began its Saturn dasha in September 2010 and was therefore in its Saturn-Saturn period.  A quick look at this chart reveals a problem.  Although Saturn is strong by virtue of its placement in its own sign of Aquarius, it is greatly afflicted due to its tight conjunction with Ketu.  Ketu is an ethereal and often spiritual influence that can bring about sudden changes.  It generally does not handle the demands of the mundane or secular worlds too well.  So in the most basic sense, this Ketu-Saturn conjunction greatly weakens Saturn and increases the likelihood for untoward events during its dasha period.  It's also perhaps a reflection of Ketu's spiritual influence on Saturn that this fundamentalist Christian was trying to start a religious war. Saturn also rules the 6th house (Capricorn) which represents conflict and is often implicated in military or criminal matters.   Although Saturn is otherwise unaspected by conventional Vedic rules, we can note an exact partial strength aspect with Uranus.  Like Ketu, Uranus symbolizes sudden or unexpected events that bring about major changes, albeit with a more secular emphasis.  Uranus symbolizes the need for independence and is often associated with a search for freedom through rebellion and revolution. Due to this Uranus influence on Saturn, the Saturn dasha may tend to have more than its fair share of shocking developments that are motivated by the search for freedom.

What's interesting is that the Uranus-Saturn contact is duplicated in the transits.  Transiting Uranus (10 Pisces) was in an exact semisextile (30 degree) aspect with natal Saturn (10 Aquarius) at the time of the attacks. This echoes the natal configuration and likely served to intensify the severity and importance of the attacks.   Also Uranus is placed in the 5th house of children and youth and most of the victims of his shooting spree were young people who were on a special vacation island.  Uranus' transit to the 8th house of obstacles and scandals was perhaps in keeping with the result that young people (5th house) would be harmed (8th house).  Transiting Pluto (11 Sagittarius) also formed a close sextile (60 degree) aspect with natal Saturn here that may have further emphasized the role of ego, power and political struggle that lay behind his need to carry out his attacks.

Another source of affliction in this chart is that transiting Saturn (17 Virgo) was sitting on the equal 2nd house cusp (16 Virgo).  Saturn had just stationed exactly on the cusp in mid-June and had only moved off one degree at the time of the attacks.  Since Saturn is the ruler of the 6th, it carries with it a dual affliction: it is naturally malefic and it rules that malefic house associated with conflict.  Transiting Saturn therefore casts its full strength aspects to the 4th (home, comfort, population), 8th (obstacles, scandals, longevity/death), 11th (hopes, aspirations) as well as the 2nd (family happiness, finances, truthfulness).  Given Saturn's status as dual malefic, its transit may have damaged many of these particular house qualities in the nation.  The fact that it was still moving very slowly only added to the strength of the impact of these aspects.

We can also ponder the role of transiting Jupiter in this chart.  It is coming up to station exactly on the equal 9th house cusp at the end of August.  This is generally a positive influence that should foster a greater interest in higher philosophical and spiritual knowledge and ethical systems.  Perhaps this will be one of the consequences of this crime as the Norwegian people come to a greater self-understanding as they mourn and try to process what has happened in the weeks ahead.  At the same time, Jupiter (14 Aries) was in a very close aspect with natal Mars (16 Libra), so it is possible that some of this aggressive Mars influence might have manifested in the attack.  When they are part of a larger picture of affliction, Mars-Jupiter aspects can reflect fanatical and over-zealous beliefs that are found in extreme ideologies and religious fundamentalists.

Anders Behring Breivik -- born February 13, 1979 (time unknown)

Breivik's horoscope offers a glimpse into his psyche.  We don't know what time he was born but we do know he was born February 13, 1979 in Oslo.  Obviously, not everyone born on this day is going to become a psychopath or a criminal.  Different birth times bring out different attributes depending on the house placements of the planets and the way house rulerships are organized in the chart.  But there are a couple of general comments that can be made about this chart.  He was born with a triple conjunction of the Moon, Saturn and Rahu (North Node) in Leo.  The Moon-Saturn conjunction is often found in deep thinking or introspective people.  Rahu changes this somewhat and makes the thinking more prone to creativity, flights of fancy and in some cases, instability.  Rahu is all about breaking boundaries and transgression, so it is possible that Breivik's inner mind could have lacked proper grounding from the outside world.  The Leo influence might have served to make him more egotistical, a quality which many former friends and co-workers have noted.  When Leos are so afflicted, they can become arrogant and headstrong. 

The other problem with this chart is that Mars closely aspects Rahu (as well as Saturn and Moon) by its full strength 8th house aspect.    Actually, Mars is in close partial aspect with several planets, including a square with Uranus (=sudden violence) as well as Neptune and Pluto.  Mars is quite pivotal in the whole chart and this suggests that the planet of action, sports and war will play a key role in his life in some way. Mars people can act quickly and decisively and this can be helpful in fast-changing circumstances or in leadership positions.  But when the rest of the chart is troubled, it can produce a bad temper and a tendency towards violence.  Again, not everyone born with these placements is necessarily going to have these characteristics.  Someone born with Venus rising is likely going to be a more charming and gentle person since that benefic planet will be emphasized.  Or perhaps someone with a more prominent Jupiter (which is exalted in Cancer here) can find a better outlet for his love of action and decision and become a successful entrepreneur.  However, it may be that Breivik was born with Mars or Rahu rising.  That could tend to exaggerate some of these aggressive tendencies and make him lose touch with the difference between right and wrong. 

And we should not forget the all-important role of free will.  Even people with very similar horoscopes can end up leading vastly different lives.  This is at least in part due to the many choices we make over the course of our lives.  Over a period of years, the results of these countless individual decisions can result in completely different paths.  Some paths lead to happiness, fulfillment and achievement, while others may lead to isolation, suffering, and violence.  In this respect, the horoscope only offers us a partial window onto a person's life journey.